Attendees at a college recreation conference were greeted by a surprise Friday, when a manager for the convention center where their conference was being held came to their closing session and apologized for the inappropriate behavior of attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference, which was meeting in the same space.
The National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association held its meeting at the Gaylord National Convention Center in Maryland last week, at the same time as the big annual gathering of conservative activists.
A Gaylord manager alluded to reports of harassment toward NIRSA attendees by CPAC attendees, saying they were out of line with the convention center’s values, according to multiple people who attended the NIRSA closing session. She also stressed the importance collegiate recreation had played in her own life, adding a personal touch to her comments.
The manager added that the convention center had never had a problem with CPAC attendees’ behavior until this year. A Gaylord spokeswoman declined to comment.
“Everyone I was sitting near was definitely surprised about the directness in her messaging,” a NIRSA attendee said.
“We are aware of some interactions between NIRSA attendees and CPAC attendees that are inconsistent with NIRSA’s values, in particular Equity, Diversity and Inclusion,” said NIRSA Executive Director Pam Watts. “NIRSA views equity, diversity, and inclusion as an essential component of inspiring healthy people and healthy communities, which is what our Association strives to do.”
Posts on social media and attendees who spoke with The Huffington Post referenced comments CPAC attendees made directed at members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and people who appeared to be Muslim, although these reports could not be independently verified.
CPAC did not return a request for comment.
If you were at NIRSA, contact us here with more details on what happened.
For years, CPAC had been a bastion of conservative opposition to President Barack Obama, attracting activists, students and politicians. But this year, the conference had extra weight with the appearances of both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, as well as several top White House aides.
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